Today's Communication Drills Need to Include Social Media Response: PIER Strategic Services Expands Comprehensive Communication Exercise Program

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PIER Systems, a leading provider of crisis communication management solutions, recently expanded their communication drill and exercise offerings. The more comprehensive services include exercise development that includes social media formats, more intense Joint Information Testing, and an emphasis on Virtual Joint Information Center operations.

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We've benefited greatly from working directly with some of the top communicators at leading agencies

PIER Systems, a leading provider of crisis communication management solutions, is expanding their communication drills and exercises offerings. The more comprehensive services include exercise development that includes social media formats, more intense Joint Information Testing, and an emphasis on Virtual Joint Information Center operations.

Too many crisis and emergency response communication drills are planned for a past era according to the PIER Systems Strategic Services team. "We've been involved in many headline-making incidents and numerous major drills and exercises the past few years," said PIER Systems Founder Gerald Baron. "But drills are fundamentally unrealistic if all they focus on is the mainstream media."

PIER Strategic Services offers communication exercise services based on the firm's years of experience working with federal agencies, state and local governments, universities, oil and energy companies, major corporations and non-profit organizations. Clients using the PIER web-based communication management system include the US Coast Guard, many of the largest oil companies, the American Red Cross, numerous state and local departments of emergency management, Boeing, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and many others.

"We've benefited greatly from working directly with some of the top communicators at leading agencies," said Baron, " and we are translating what we have learned into realistic exercises for our clients."

PIER's drills and exercises are based on the National Incident Management System, which requires use of the Incident Command System. PIER was born in a Joint Information Center environment and is credited with creating the concept of the Virtual Joint Information Center. The demands of today's media response, stakeholders and the general public for instant information requires that a Virtual JIC response be part of the planning for any crisis or emergency response organization. "The issue is building and maintaining trust and in today's information environment it means you have to be fast, you have to communicate directly and interactively, and you have to be transparent. Nothing less will work," said Baron.

PIER's Strategic Services focuses on the four critical elements of effective response and preparation: Policies, Plans, People and Platform. The Communication Exercise Program developed by PIER can include any or all of these items as part of the scope of work. Activities are focused around Exercise Planning, Training, Response and De-brief. As the leading provider of crisis communication technology, PIER drills fully integrate the use of technology to facilitate the communication processes.

Gerald Baron, founder of PIER Systems, leads the PIER Strategic Services team. Baron has extensive experience in crisis management based on nearly 30 years as principal of a marketing and public relations firm in the Pacific Northwest. He has responded to numerous major incidents including the Olympic Pipeline accident of 1999 from which PIER was created.

Marc Mullen, Senior Vice President of PIER has served as the lead consultant for PIER during the past nine years. He has worked closely with PIER clients on shipping disasters, hurricanes, industrial accidents, oil spills, and numerous other incidents. He was called in to help establish the Joint Information Center for the largest wildfire response in the nation's history in June 2008. In addition to actual responses, Mr. Mullen plays a key role planning and responding to numerous drills including oil spills, nuclear radiation disasters, earthquakes and many other scenarios.

John "Pat" Philbin, PhD., Senior Consultant with PIER Strategic Services, offers extensive real world experience in national level crisis and emergency communication response. He began his career in Public Affairs with the Coast Guard as an officer in charge of the ship directly below the Space Shuttle Challenger during the tragic incident in 1986. He was later appointed Head of Public Affairs for the agency and subsequently assumed the role of Head of External Affairs for FEMA. In addition to his extensive experience in communication management, his experience in coordinating response among local, state, federal agencies and private companies is invaluable in planning for and testing large-scale communication responses involving multiple agencies and organizations.

There is no substitute for experience in responding effectively to a major crisis or event. A well-planned and managed drill provides the best possible experience short of an actual incident. It provides the opportunity to test and evaluate every aspect of the communication response including the policies, the plans, the people involved and the technology platforms used. To be effective, it must replicate the real world and what the response team will actually face in a real event. That's what PIER's Strategic Services Communication Exercise Program is well suited to do -- including planning to respond to the new challenges posed by social media.

PIER Communication Exercise Program Description

About PIER Systems
The Public Information and Emergency Response (PIER) System is the world's first and only full spectrum on-demand communication management web-application. PIER is designed to put all critical tools needed by communicators into a single, easy-to-use communication platform, allowing communicators and an extended team to work together from anywhere at anytime to fully complete and manage a wide range of critical communication tasks. PIER is used by many of the world's leading oil and energy companies, by major federal agencies, by leading universities, major corporations and a large number of smaller government agencies, non-profits and commercial enterprises. PIER helps deliver the right information, to the right people, right now. PIER is a product of PIER Systems, Inc. For more information, visit http://www.PIERSystems.com.

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GERALD BARON
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